A missed opportunity
Last updated 1/11/2019 at 1:49pm
It wasn’t the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but I did write a column last week. It didn’t make it into the paper because for some odd reason I forgot to send it. Laugh if you must but sometimes being retired means not having as many cares in the world that you normally would and when you think you hit send well let’s just say there are probably a lot more people like me than we would like to admit to.
So the column I wrote last week had some dated material in it so it would be in our best interests to just say ‘oh, well’ and move on. But it did occur to me that I should have mentioned something about Veteran’s Day.
How does Veteran’s Day become a topic of a sports column you might ask? Well, here goes. In my early years my dad always said that Nov. 11 was Armistice Day. This day was remembered as the end of the War to end all wars, at least until the next war. Later known as World War I the armistice to end the war was signed in France on the 11th day, of the 11th month at the 11th hour.
On the 11th of November Ritzville used to host the last football game of the season. Teams like St. Pat’s of Walla Walla, later to be called DeSales High or Othello High would come to town for an afternoon game.
I’m not sure when the last game was played and it really isn’t that important what was important was the fact that my dad recalled some great Armistice Day games in the past and would tell me about some of the great Bronco athletes to play in those games.
Armistice Day would be changed to Veteran’s Day in 1954. I was two at the time and really don’t have a recollection of that event but it didn’t matter, to my dad it was Armistice Day. When the war ended in 1918 my dad was eleven, so it was something he remembered vividly.
There were significant celebrations over the past weekend commemorating the end of WW I, the signing of the armistice and honoring our veterans. I hope you thanked a veteran for their service. I did and it was greatly appreciated.
Growing up in my generation we knew the people that fought in World War II as well as a few that were in WW I and some that went to Korea. And their service was honored even though the Korean War was often called a police action. I would say that if the enemy is shooting back with military style weapons it would be hard to think that it was anything but war.
Many sports figures like Yogi Berra and Bob Feller fought in WWII. Ted Williams, who just might have been the greatest hitter of all-time, fought in WWII and the Korean War. Who knows what his stats would have looked like if he had decided that baseball was more important than his country?
The turbulent 1960s saw another war, one that became very unpopular to many in this country, Vietnam. In the Vietnam era young men were drafted into the military and sent to Vietnam or Germany. If you signed up for Germany chances are you would be sent to Vietnam whereas is you signed up to go to Vietnam chances are you went to Germany.
As the war became more and more unpopular, the men that came back home were treated horribly. They were called names, spat upon by protesters and many draft dodgers. Few if any really knew what the U.S. was fighting for. The war was headline news every night, up close and very personal. It became a political football and the real losers in the whole thing were those that were fighting the battles in the jungles of Southeast Asia.
We can never forget that those that fight for the freedom of America should be treated with respect. For without their sacrifice it can only be imagined what this country would look like today even for someone writing a sports column for a small town newspaper. So don’t miss an opportunity to say thank you to a veteran, even if it isn’t on Veteran’s Day.